TODAY IS a proud day for Birmingham, I’m over the moon and proud to call myself a brummie.
Those are the emotional words of Save Hall Green Stadium campaigner Stephen Rea after a planning application to demolish build 210 dwellings on the current stadium site was refused by councillors at a meeting this morning.
Councillors voted 9-2 in favour of retaining the popular racing facility located in the north of the borough, though the decision is likely to be appealed.
A huge cheer went up from the public gallery – containing a mix of trainers, owners and employees of Hall Green Greyhound Stadium – when the unanimous decision was made.
Points raised by various councillors included the planning application submitted had too little affordable housing listed, the stadium was home to hundreds of permanent jobs and planning approval would be likely to cost the community.
Mr Rea, a former general manager at Hall Green Stadium, added in a speech prior to the decision that Hall Green Stadium was of significant importance to the area and said the stadium was just as valuable at St Andrew’s, Villa Park and Edgbaston Cricket ground.
Speaking to The Observer outside the Birmingham Council House after the planning application was refused, an emotional Mr Rea said: “I’m over the moon, today is a proud day for Birmingham.
“The committee have gone against their own planners recommendation despite the fact that the two planning agents there were very vocal in their support of the application.
“Coun Kerry Jenkins said herself the infrastructure of Hall Green cannot cope with 200 more houses – the people in Hall Green already have issues with schools and medical facilities.
“Children are having to be taken out of the area to schools they don’t want to go to.
“Putting another two or three hundred children in the area would be completely unsustainable.”
The stadium currently has a 15 year lease to host greyhound racing – the sport can only be lost at the site should Euro Investment Property, the stadium’s owners, gain planning permission from the council.
With an appeal expected, Mr Rea said the battle is not over just yet – though campaigners will continue to fight for their stadium and the city’s heritage.
He added: “They (the owners) can’t shut the stadium down in any way shape or form – the fact they didn’t get approval today is brilliant.
“We will continue to fight for our stadium, sport and area.
“I was born just down the road from the stadium in Northfield and my parents took me there in my pram as a baby.
“I’ve been going to Hall Green Stadium for 65 years – the thought we could’ve lost 90 years of heritage in Birmingham just by a council vote is not nice.
“The vote was emphatic and the councillors who spoke up clearly have Birmingham’s heritage at heart.”